This is nothing new to any player in any sport, especially the NFL. Each year whether a player just got paid millions of dollars, is playing for a big contract, ring chasing with a new team, or talked a lot of smack and foolishly made some huge predictions in the offseason, there’s always a handful of players under pressure going into their respective season. This year is no different and I’m bringing you the top eight players who I have coming in the 2017 season under the most pressure.

NFL

Brandin Cooks

Cooks is still very young in his career at 23 years old, he’s coming off back-to-back 1,100- yard seasons and posted eight touchdowns last season. After leaving a high-powered New Orleans Saints offense with Drew Brees he goes to another future hall of famer in Tom Brady, and finds himself in another high-powered, but crowded offense. Cooks was also used to playing inside a dome, and will have to deal with playing in freezing temperatures and the snow late in the season. If you’re taking Cooks in the early rounds of your fantasy football draft, just know the risk he brings or having to wait his turn week-to-week.

Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller had some huge games in Miami and said one of his main reasons for heading to Houston was because he felt that the Dolphins limited his capability. Welp Mr. Miller it’s safe to say that your first year as a Texan was disappointing. Miller averaged 20 carries per game, but in the passing game he wasn’t even noticeable. Miller enters 2017 with a lot of pressure to bounce back as the promising dominant work horse he was made out to be, because if not D’Onta Foreman can very will find his way stealing some snaps away for himself.

Kirk Cousins

Captain Kirk is usually seen as too conservative, but he found himself as the ninth ranked quarterback in 2016. He ranked third in yards with 4,915, and he was a nightmare for defenses in the closing stretch, but what puts him under pressure is the fact that he hasn’t got the big contract he’s been looking for. In his time with the Washington Redskins he’s out performed RG3, he’s taken his team to the playoffs, and he’s been ranked as a top-10 quarterback more than once. This could be the year that Cousins goes out and repeats what he’s done the past two seasons to earn his money, or he can simply go out and lay a fat egg on a contract year, thus leaving Cousins playing under pressure in 2017.

Sammy Watkins

This is no surprise for the young wideout. The past two seasons Watkins has only been seen in 21 games total. In his rookie season he posted a great campaign and was drafted high the following year in many fantasy drafts, but since then Sammy has brought nothing but shame and dissatisfaction to owners. It was no different last year after dealing with a foot and numerous injuries, but you’ve got to think that he’s rehabbing as best he could being that he’s on a contract year with his rookie deal coming to an end (the Bills declined his fifth-year option, making him a free agent at season’s end). Watkins is an intriguing draft choice, and is no doubt a number one receiver when healthy, but that’s a big if. If Watkins produces yet another poor season filed with injuries, it won’t be difficult for the young receiver to find work, but getting paid what he feels what he deserves will be difficult.

Dak Prescott

The winner of the 2017 ESPYS Breakthrough Athlete of the Year went to the rookie Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys. His rookie season was phenomenal, he was the sixth-highest scoring quarterback, but repeating that is no easy task. Unless Dak is forced to throw a lot, Ezekiel Elliott will attribute to the majority of the work on offense. With Tony Romo making his way into the broadcast booth this year Prescott faces a lot of pressure in his sophomore year to repeat what he did in his rookie season, or do better. Winning teams now know what the young QB is capable of and Prescott will have a tougher time facing defenses this season.

Mark Ingram

If any player in the league deserves to feel kicked to the side, or playing with anger this season, Mark Ingram should come first to mind. Injuries are no stranger to Ingram, but he managed to play in all sixteen games last season for the second time in his career. Ingram has finished within the top fifteen of fantasy running backs more than once, and added ten touchdown to his thousand yard season last year. Now looking ahead to 2017, Ingram is going to fight  off veteran Adrian Peterson, and rookie Alvin Kamara for more carries as he finds himself in a running back by committee which also makes this frustrating for fantasy owners.

Keenan Allen

It doesn’t feel like long ago when Keenan Allen was one of the top wide receivers in fantasy football, now he’s been suffering from the Sammy Watkins syndrome (injuries) which has kept him out of 23 of the last 32 games in the past two seasons. After tearing his ACL in week one last season, Allen has been recovering just fine in OTA’s as a full participant, but trainers and coaches have said that his workload will be limited in training camp. If Keenan comes back and plays all sixteen games it’s hard to see him as top wideout, especially with a now-loaded team with receivers. Mike Williams was drafted this season, and if Allen is anywhere near sub par, or dealing with injuries he’ll soon be forgotten if Williams lives up to the hype.

Kelvin Benjamin

Benjamin is definitely a candidate for a bounce back season, but he’s under pressure for numerous reasons. One of them is Cam Newton’s health. Yes the O-line, and Newton scrambling has a lot to do with it, but Cam needs other players not named Greg Olsen (who’s getting older) to make plays for him. In 2014, Benjamin looked promising with his size, strength and a willingness to go after a ball and make plays. The following year everybody had him on their list, and were excited for him, but he ended up tearing his ACL in 2015. Last year he got an excuse in my opinion, and it wasn’t entirely his fault, the Panthers overall were a mess. There’s been photos surfing on the web of Kelvin looking like Eddie Lacy’s stunt double from a few years ago, and he hasn’t been looking like he’s in the best shape heading into training camp. After failing to qualify for the playoffs after making it to the Super Bowl in the past, Benjamin is under pressure to get back into shape, and come back into the season even better than his rookie year.

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